All signs point to incoming Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Rafael Mariano flexing his muscle on the Hacienda Luisita land distribution issue.
This, after Mariano, a former Anakpawis party-list representative, was introduced by President-elect Rodrigo Duterte as the DAR chief of his administration Tuesday, May 31 during a press conference in Panacan, Davao.
Mariano chairs the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), a militant farmers’ group which has repeatedly challenged President Benigno Aquino III’s programs on agrarian reform and agriculture.
Covered by these programs is the controversial Hacienda Luisita, which is a 6,453-hectare sugarcane plantation owned by the Cojuangcos, which is part of the incumbent chief executive’s family.
The plantation was supposed to be distributed to 6,296 landless farmers under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in 1988, but a stock distribution option (SDO) was offered in 1989, giving the farmers corporate stocks as an alternative to land distribution. Not all farm workers saw this option as viable.
In December 2005, the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) issued a resolution which effectively rescinded the SDO and directed the DAR to redistribute the land under the CARP.
However, the redistribution process was stalled by a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court (SC) just eight months later.
The Hacienda impasse has entered it’s 10th year, but like what Duterte loves to say, change is coming. (Samantha A. Giron)